Operation Caracal, Part 6
If this day would be summed up in one word, that word would be food. All regional members of the Vedeckis extended family gathered at Ms. Mary and Mr. Wayne’s home, and spent the afternoon mingling, burning sparklers, and eating.
Unlike the structured Christmas dinner of the previous week, this was a free-form, buffet-style affair. I found Mr. Wayne’s red beans and rice to be one of the best versions of that dish I had ever had, so I asked him if there was secret ingredient involved. There was no secret ingredient, but there was a hard to find one. He used a rue mix as the base for the sauce, and this mix is made by the Blue Runner Foods company. Near as I can tell, this brand isn’t available in upper Virginia, though I’m keeping my eyes open. If I can’t find it, then I may have to have some shipped in, or, the next time we visit Louisiana I’ll have to stock up on it!
This recipe, from the Blue Runner Foods web site, is very close to the one Mr. Wayne used.
Red Beans and Rice
- 2 tablespoons mild olive oil
- 2 cups ham or pickled pork, diced into1-inch pieces
- 2 cups Andouille smoked sausage, sliced into half-rounds, 1/4″ thick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 2 cups finely diced celery
- 3 cups finely diced yellow onion
- 4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried whole-leaf thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried whole-leaf oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup finely diced canned tomato
- 8 cups water
- 1 lb. red kidney beans, washed
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ham or pickled pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat begins to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage begins to brown, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves, bell pepper, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown, 8-10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans. Cook, covered, for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid and stir in the parsley. Raise heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the broth has a gravy-like consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and serve with cooked rice.
This recipe can easily be customized. For example, to make this more diabetic-friendly, serve over brown rice instead white rice. Brown rice has fewer of the “bad carbs” that cause diabetics so much angst.
The gathering had broken up by late afternoon. That was when the Culpeper clan reluctantly started packing their bags for the return trip to Virginia.
To be concluded.